The Turnbull administration is considering a written proposal to buy the Lottery system.
In a telephone interview Monday, Rudolph Krigger, financial adviser to Gov. Charles Turnbull, said the government received the proposal about two weeks ago, shortly after the governor mentioned in his State of the Territory address that he would consider privatizing several government functions, including the lottery.
Krigger said he did not have the paperwork before him and could not remember the name of the company or individuals interested in purchasing the lottery or other details of the proposal except that it entailed the entire the system.
"It's still being reviewed," he said, and "I understand there's another (offer) in the mail."
George Golden, acting director of the Lottery, said he believes the law prohibits the sale.
"No government lottery can be sold," he said, although some of its functions might be contracted out to private companies.
The V.I. Lottery now contracts for the production of its instant lottery tickets, Golden said. The traditional lottery tickets are printed by the government printing office at Property and Procurement.
Krigger said the legality of the selling the system is one of the things "being reviewed." So is the impact on workers. "It is not something that would happen overnight."
The review may get a boost from the U.S. Inspector General's Office, which is about to begin a previously scheduled audit of the Lottery System. The audit is to cover general operations in 1998 and 1999.
Golden said that in the past few years the system has not been doing very well.
"We're paying all our own expenses," he said. But "we're not making sufficient profit."
He blamed this on the general downturn in the economy and the fact that the Virgin Islands game is small compared with the Puerto Rico Lottery. Although the Puerto Rico lottery is illegal in the Virgin Islands, it has for years been stiff competition.
The lottery is supposed to contribute at least 5 percent of its profits to the General Fund, but Golden indicated that the contribution has dwindled to almost nothing since profits have been low.